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School of English and Drama

Dr Hannah Silva, BA (Dartington) MFA (Exeter) PhD (Stirling)


Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow

Twitter: @hannahsilvauk


I am a writer and performer working in sound poetry, radio, and experimental non-fiction. My record Talk in a bit was included in The Wire's Top 25 Albums of 2018. I have written eight plays for BBC Radio 3 and 4, winning the Tinniswood Award for best script and numerous placements in the BBC Audio Drama Awards.

My PhD on the analysis of poetry in performance was funding by an AHRC collaborative doctoral partnership with Stirling University and the British Library and focused on the work of Lemn Sissay, Salena Godden and David J. As part of this research I made an archive, ‘Black British Poets in Performance’ consisting of in depth interviews with poets for the British Library.

I have taught drama at Exeter University and creative writing at Birkbeck College.

My Child, the Algorithm, a memoir on queer single parenting and love, co-written with an algorithm, is forthcoming from Footnote Press July 2023.


Research Interests:

  • Narratives of queer parenting
  • Innovative non-fiction
  • Poetry and technology in performance
  • Black British Poetry
  • Neuro-queerness and neuro-diversity in creative writing

Recent and On-Going Research

My latest play for BBC Radio 4, An Artificially Intelligent Guide to Love was written using text generated by a machine-learning algorithm and starred Fiona Shaw. It was the starting point for My Child, the Algorithm, a memoir about queer single parenting and love, co-written with an algorithm and my toddler, forthcoming from Footnote Press in 2023.


My Child, the Algorithm (Footnote Press, forthcoming July 2023)

Forms of Protest. –poetry collection (Penned in the Margins, 2013)

‘British Spoken Word Voice’ chapter in: English, Lucy and Jack McGowen (eds). Spoken Word in the UK. (London and New York: Routledge, 2021)

 ‘Composing speech’ chapter in Stress Fractures, essays on poetry. (Penned in the Margins, 2010)

 ‘Lemn Sissay: Defamiliarisation and performed palimpsests’. The Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, Special Issue on Race. Ed. Sandeep Parmar. 2021

 ‘The Cartography of the Imagination’ Contemporary Theatre Review, backpages (2015, Vol. 25, 2)


May 2018: Debut sound poetry and music record Talk in a bit released by Humankind Records. National tour funded by the Arts Council England. Development supported by the Arts Council International Development Fund. Launched at Café OTO. Played on numerous international radio stations, Radio 3’s Late Junction and BBC Radio 6. The Wire’s top 25 albums of 2018.

2018-19: Pluto is a Planet! Sound poetry duet with Tomomi Adachi performed in Kiev (Ukho Music), Bratislava (ars poetica), Bucharest International Poetry Festival, Belgium LUNALIA in Mechelen (May 2019), toured England, and played on Radio 3’s Late Junction.

2014-17: Writer and performer: Schlock! Commissioned by The Poetry Trust for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2014 where it premiered. Produced by Penned in the Margins. Funded by the Arts Council England. International touring to Flip! Festival, Brazil and Literature Live, Mumbai, supported by the British Council. 3-week run Rosemary Branch Theatre, Islington, London 2016. AchtBrücken Music Festival, Cologne (2017). UK tour.

2016: Data Rave sound art, on the EU Referendum at Millennium Point, Birmingham, Supported by Sky Arts and the Arts Council England. Produced by DOINK.

2015: Artistic Director: Public Address The Soapbox Tour for Apples and Snakes. (spoken word touring show profiling eight poets from around the UK)

2013: Writer and director: The Disappearance of Sadie Jones. Funded by the Arts Council England and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. Toured nationally incl. The Lowry, Salford, Norwich Arts Centre, MAC Birmingham, The House, Plymouth.

2013: Writer and performer: Total Man for Electronic Voice Phenomena, touring show produced by Penned in the Margins and Mercy. Shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry.

2011-12: Writer and performer: Opposition, solo performance. Supported by the Arts Council England and Apples and Snakes. Toured nationally and Edinburgh Fringe.


2022: An Artificially Intelligent Guide to Love. An Afonica Production for BBC 4, afternoon drama. Co-written with a machine-learning algorithm, GPT-J (played by Fiona Shaw). Developed through OKRE Experimental stories.

2019: Love Thy Synth. An Afonica Production for BBC Radio 3, Drama on 3. (shortlisted Best original series, BBC Audio Drama Awards). A woman becomes obsessed with an AI built in her own image.

2019: Orlando. BBC Radio 3. (chap. 5). Best Adaptation, finalist, BBC Audio Drama Awards.

2018: The Beast An Afonica Production for BBC Radio 4. Afternoon drama. (Pick of the Week). A boy from Honduras escapes violence and hopes to reach the U.S by travelling on ‘The Beast’ - freight trains that cross Mexico. Finalist 2019 BBC Audio Drama Awards ‘Best Use of Sound’ and ‘Best Debut Performance’.

2018: Indigo Children A Sparklab production for BBC Radio 4. Afternoon Play. (Pick of the Week). A girl convinces her mother that she is happily neurodivergent.

2017: The Music Lesson A Sparklab Production for BBC Radio 4. Afternoon Play. Finalist, Best Single Drama, BBC Audio Drama Awards. Fiona Shaw plays a music teacher who traps her student in a never-ending lesson.

2017: Solitary Afonica production for BBC Radio 3’s Between the Ears. Shortlisted, Best Single Drama; Christine Bottomley won ‘best actress’ BBC Audio drama awards for her portrayal of a woman in segregation in a UK prison. Afonica won ‘Best Drama Producer’, Audio Production Awards, judges described script as ‘pitch-perfect’.

2016: Jump Blue Between the Ears, Radio 3. Based on the final dive of Natalia Molchanova, performed by Fiona Shaw. Awarded ‘Commendation’ as runner up at the BBC Audio Drama Awards for Best Single Drama; Fiona Shaw shortlisted for Best Actress.

2012: Marathon Tales BBC Radio 3, Saturday drama. Produced by David Hunter. Co-written with Colin Teevan. Winner of The Tinniswood Award for best radio drama script.

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